Grief and Father’s Day: National Grief Expert’s 10 Tips to Cope with Grief on Father’s Day

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If it is a grieving son or daughter's first father’s day without their father or are a father who has lost a child, they will meet a part of themselves that they have not yet met. Nationally known grief expert and former TV personality, Edy Nathan MA, LCSW offers ten tips that a person who has lost a father can use to assist with healing and integrating the loss into their life.

Everyone grieves differently! No one grieves the way you do.

"The first year in any loss is a year of learning about who you are while in the throes of your grieving process. Everyone grieves differently! No one grieves the way you do" Nathan states.

It is never easy to lose a parent. When one loses a father they also lose a sense of themselves as the child who related to the role their father played in their life.

Across all age boundaries, when children are with our fathers they are still his child. The role of the patriarch is a powerful one. Collectively, everyone has had a father, whether they knew their fathers or not. The role of father played in one's life not only affects how they grieve, but how they live.

The role that a father has played in a life is different than the role that one may have needed or expected. If a father was loving, and modeled behavior that the child wanted to reflect in their own life, that was a personal gift that he gave them. Yet, if he could not be the father the child needed him to be, lacking integrity or purpose or simply was not there either in spirit or in body, then the magnitude of this loss can be even greater.

Edy Nathan suggests these tips for surviving Father's Day whether the person grieving is the child of the father or a father who has lost a child.

Survival Tips for Grieving the Loss of a Father

1.    Plan for the day: Even if the child believes that the day will not have an impact, don’t risk it. They should reach out to friends and family. They don’t have to go through it alone! Even if that is their typical MO, this is an opportunity for them to do things differently!

2.    Letters to Their Father: Write the Father a letter or get a Father’s Day card and write a note to him. This could begin a ritual that they do for themselves every Father’s Day.

3.    In Memory of Him: If the grieving is able to look at pictures, take out one or two of their father that fills them with joy. Tell a story that reflects what their father meant to them. Wear a color that the father liked.

4.    Estranged Relationship: What has that relationship taught them and how they have used what they learned to better themselves? How does the child love themselves differently than the way the father loved them? What different choices did the child make because of the tension? They should own their growth and differences.

5.    Be Good To Themselves! They should get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and take care of their soul by listening and breathing. Remember to breathe!

Tips for Fathers Grieving the Loss of a Child

1.    Be Proactive in Healing: Therapy is often helpful to sort out the intense emotions associated to the grief. Anger and regret are emotions that like to take up space in the father's world. Individual or group therapy help to calm the forceful nature of the emotions. “Compassionate Friends” is an organization that can help to make fathers feel less alone in their grief. Healing occurs when they reach out for help.

2.    Consider a “Turning Your Grief Into Grace Cruise” and Meet a Different You: This is self help meets seIf knowledge. Meet others who are dealing with grief. Many fathers are taught to keep emotions internalized and keep that “stiff upper lip”. They need to let the “lip” go! It is time to understand that this "Turning Your Grief Into Grace" cruise will be an opportunity to touch part of themselves that has remained hidden and it may be a gift to the fathers from their child.

3.    Get to Balance: At times a grieving father will feel overwhelmed with emotions and at other times they will feel distant from them: On a piece of paper draw two circles. Put a dot in the middle of both circles. The dot is one's self. The two circles represent the relationship to their emotions before and after the loss. They should write down the emotions that they were the closet to before the loss and the emotions that are now closet to them now. What differences do are seen? What is learned about the fathers and their potent emotions?

4.    Letters to Their Child: When a child dies the part of the father that was a parent to that child does not have to die. The way the father can hold them in their heart will always be alive. The father should honor that part of themselves. Write the child a letter sharing thoughts or day to day life with them. The conversation with them does not have to die.

5.     Pay their Lives Forward: What did their child love to do? Were they into sports or the arts or were they the light in the father's soul? The father should take who the child was to them and share aspects of them by giving of themselves. If they were young and died without having developed their own sense of self, donate time in their name as a way of keeping their spirit alive.

About Edy Nathan MA, LCSW:

Edy is a licensed psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience specializing in the integration of psychotherapy and the world of spirituality. She is a former TV star on the A & Show, “Psychic Kids” and holds Masters from both New York University and Fordham. She has post-graduate training from the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, The Gestalt Center and the Jungian Institute. She is a certified EMDR practitioner, regression therapist, certified Hypnotherapist and grief expert. She hosts a series of four-night grief cruises each year called “Turning Grief into Grace”. For more information about the cruises, call Tawnee Port via CruisePlanners at: 954-306-9845.

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